Music makes the world go round is a common conviction. But what kind of world would it be if music was the primary way to communicate, written language is gone, and a large instrument causes the city’s people to lose their memory? The Chimes by Anna Smaill explores a world where such things happen.
Recently orphaned Simon arrives in London with partial memories of why it is that he’s there. In the separated world between the Citadel and ordinary citizens where the elite reside within the walls of the Citadel and study instruments to mute memory and keep ordinary citizens in the dark about their reality, discord is struggling to break to the surface. Simon, who possesses a unique gift to delve into the memories of others, works with Lucien, a former member of the Order, presumed dead, who seeks to bring down the Citadel, to form a cohesive narrative of the memories of those who fought against the Order in years past.
The writing takes on a different quality as language as we know it is dead in the world that Smaill creates. Words are spelled differently but still close enough to what we’d recognize that we understand what’s being described. The premise is incredibly intriguing in its depiction of a possibility for the devolution of humanity, particularly the language aspect as some already predict that we’re moving back toward hieroglyphics via emojis. There could have been some greater description for some things, such as Lucien’s blindness, as I didn’t realize the extent he could see until the book was almost finished (or maybe I missed it in acclimating to the language of the story?).
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.